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Nordic ski training log: A weekly workout log preparing for the Mammoth Biathlon—Week 3

February 24, 2012

Taking up new sports, embracing new hobbies, seeking new experiences—these are all things that keep us young in spirit, healthy in mind.

And there’s nothing to make you feel young again like falling flat on your face in the snow.
 
To review the theme of our workout from last week: I am taking the beginner workout track, so my goal for this week was to work up to skiing for about one hour continuously. Pretty fun, it turns out, to just put on my skis and waddle around for an hour on my new toys. I especially enjoyed the speedy downhill bits—these edgeless twiggy skis are a hoot. And slowly but surely, my body is learning how to work with them.
 
Learning, however, does not come without “learning points.”
 
First official day on skate skis
I think it took me at least five minutes to strap my wrists into the fancy hand harnesses on my poles. Once I got the first one on, the other took exponentially longer as I flailed about trying to scissor-grab the other strap with the pole handle blocking my palm. Epic. This does not bode well for my transition time in the biathlon—and I am going to need every second I can get in this race. Come to find out, many biathletes have ditched the fancy velcro hand harness in favor of the simpler, traditional loop of webbing.
 
This first day was just plain fun. People were so friendly—huge smiles and warm greetings from complete strangers. I padded along, grinning ear-to-ear—exercise-induced endorphins elevating my mood dramatically. I started to realize that the majority of my skating comrades were more than twice my age—and were literally skating circles around me. One guy, who looked like he was almost 70, passed me twice—after skiing an extra loop. 
 
But Alana Levin, our Nordic coach, insisted that this hour be “guiltily easy,” right? I guess I got the “guilty” part down at least…
 
Second official day on skis
Thinking back to my foundational lesson on classical cross-country skis last week with Brian Knox of Mammoth Nordic Foundation, I started to think about expanding my glide on each ski. Uphill, too hard. But downhill, I started feeling as if I could fly. Then, of course, I got a little too bold. Before I knew what happened, I was spread eagle, across the trail, and I couldn’t move my hand. Oh no.
 
I tried to pop back up, but to no avail—my hand wouldn’t budge. Oh, I’m sitting on my pole. 
 
Strike two for pole straps?
No, I probably shouldn’t have straddled my ski pole in the first place. Novice move.
 
Just then, as I floundered in the snow, a flash of green caught my eye. It was perhaps the first skating figure under the age of 60 I had seen in at least 45 minutes. He looked oddly familiar. Not like someone I knew, but like someone I had seen in a photo, on someone’s desk or something…
 
It was my editor’s boyfriend.
 
Great.
 
Mammoth Biathlon update
The race will be held at the Reds Lake Basin near the Outpost 14 behind chairs 13 and 14 at Mammoth Mountain on Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25. The competitors will ski 1.5km stadium loops, always in view of the spectators. Saturday’s race will be 3km, with competitors shooting two bouts at 25m. This day’s events will include competitors ages 8 to 19, Wounded Warriors, and beginner adult categories. On Sunday, Senior and Master racers will ski 4.5km with two bouts of shooting at 50m, and Elite and National Guard racers will ski 7.5km and shoot four bouts at 50m. 
 
Donations and volunteers warmly welcomed. Check out esnsa.org for more information!
 
Nordic Conditions Report
•Tamarack: Still awesome. Top notch grooming. Snow is better in the morning as it gets a little slushy in the afternoon (thanks, sun!)
•Lake Mary Road: For those without a pass to Tamarack, you can still enjoy some decent groomed tracks right in Mammoth.
•Rock Creek Road: Last groomed on Thursday, but still reported to have good skiing on Saturday. Conditions have deteriorated due to the warming trend.
•Shady Rest area: No new snow has made it tricky for good track setting.
 
And once again, our workout-of-the-week from Alana Levin, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Nordic Coach:
 
Beginner skier workout
Key workouts: distance, technique, and target practice.
Distance: Increase your time out skiing by 10 percent from last week. Keep it at effort level 1 (guiltily easy), since your goal is to ski continuously. Remember you are ideally working up to 1.5 times the distance of your event (which is 3km, so you’re working up to 4.5km).
Ski technique: Hopefully you’ve gotten out for a lesson, so practice the drills they gave you! It’s all about being more efficient, so practice your technique deliberately!
Target practice: Avoid those penalty laps!
 
Experienced skier workout
Key workouts: overdistance, intervals with target practice.
Overdistance: (See workout above) If you are skiing 4.5km at level 1, your workout should be 7km of guiltily easy skiing. You can work up to 10km just in case you have to ski penalty laps. If you’re skiing 7.5km, bump up to 11.5km, or even 15km.
Intervals: If you have been doing interval workouts regularly throughout the season, work at level four (“Can’t talk, need to focus” pace). This is at or slightly above your lactate threshold pace. Try some 4x4’s: four minutes at level four with four minutes of recovery, four times. Or try six bouts of two minutes at level four with two minutes of recovery.
Target practice: Incorporate this into your interval workout! Anyone want snow hare for dinner?
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